Andrea: 120 days left. Sema: 104 days left. Aracely: 107 days left. Alexa: 15 days left. Carlos: expired. With their jobs, education, families, and lives quite literally hanging in the balance, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and their allies demonstrated in front of the White House yesterday—where Donald Trump was meeting with congressional leaders about the year-end budget and DACA—holding signs showing how many days they have left until their work permits and protection from deportation run out. Trump gave congressional leaders until March to act on a legislative solution to the crisis he created by ending DACA this past September, but undocumented immigrant youth don’t have any time to waste:
This so-called March deadline is not only a ruse, it’s an excuse for inaction. As immigration attorney and policy expert David Leopold reminds us in a new op-ed published in The Hill, “The deadline for action on Dreamer legislation is not March of 2018, it’s already passed.”
When President Trump created this crisis in September, his Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gave many with DACA until October 5th to submit renewal applications. DHS sent out no notices, gave no reason for this arbitrary deadline, and has shown little flexibility for those whose applications arrived late due to postal and bureaucratic miscues. The urgency for hundreds of thousands of young Americans is intense, and Congress needs to act now.
About 10,000 DACA recipients have already lost their protections, and 122 young people will continue losing their status every day. Without legislation, that number will surge to nearly 1,500 young people daily. Passing the DREAM Act isn’t controversial—most Americans, including Republicans, support DACA youth—but House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell are making it that way. They’ve both already said that Congress should act legislatively to protect DACA youth, but have yet to put their money where their mouths are and a call a vote. Their political games will hurt real lives. “184 days until my last work day, my last day as a special education teacher,” tweeted DACA recipient Karen Reyes. “I want to continue to teach and live without fear. Living in fear and uncertainty is no way to live.”